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Sundress Academy for the Arts & VIDA Now Accepting Applications for Fall Artist Residencies

Sundress Academy for the Arts & VIDA
Now Accepting Applications for Fall Artist Residencies

Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is excited to announce that they are now accepting applications for short-term artists’ residencies in creative writing, visual art, film/theater, music, scholarly work, and more. Each residency includes a room of one’s own, access to a communal kitchen, bathroom, office, and living space, plus wireless internet.

The length of a residency can run from one to three weeks. SAFTA is currently accepting applications for our fall residency period, which runs from August 21st to December 31st, 2018. The deadline for fall residency applications is May 1st, 2018.

For the fall residency period, SAFTA will be pairing with VIDA to offer two fellowships (one full fellowship and one 50% fellowship) for a week-long residency to two women writers of any genre. VIDA’s mission as a research-driven organization is to increase critical attention to contemporary women’s writing as well as further transparency around gender equality issues in contemporary literary culture. Fellowships will be chosen by guest judge, Elissa Washuta.

Screen Shot 2018-03-17 at 1.17.20 PMElissa Washuta is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and a nonfiction writer. She is the author of two books, Starvation Mode and My Body Is a Book of Rules, named a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. She has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, 4Culture, Potlatch Fund, and Hugo House. Elissa is an assistant professor of English at the Ohio State University.

The SAFTA farmhouse is located on a working farm that rests on a 45-acre wooded plot in a Tennessee “holler” perfect for hiking, camping, and nature walks. Located less than a half-hour from downtown Knoxville, an exciting and creative city of 200,000 in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, SAFTA is an ideal location for those looking for a rural get-away with access to urban amenities.

The residency bedrooms are 130 sq. ft. with queen-size platform bed, closet, dresser, and desk. There is also a communal kitchen supplied with stove, refrigerator, and microwave plus plenty of cook- and dining-ware. The facility also includes a full-size working 19th century full-size letterpress with type, woodworking tools, a 1930’s drafting table, and an extensive library of contemporary literature.

For more information and application material, visit our website at sundressacademyforthearts.com.

 

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Project Bookshelf: Snigdha Koirala

 

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My current bookshelf marks a transitional phase in my life. Having moved away from home (and thus having to limit the books I could bring with me), I had the problem of any other bibliophile in this situation: an understocked bookshelf. Around the same time, I was listening to various podcast interviews of one of my favourite writers, Jhumpa Lahiri. She explained that she too faced the dreaded understocked bookshelf after her move to Rome from New York. As an antidote, she displayed covers of books, which took up more space on the shelf, and simultaneously created an art installation of sorts. And in true fashion of a devoted fan, I did the same.

My books are organized in no particular order. Most recent reads tend to have their covers displayed, and eventually move to the side or are stacked under other books as I add more to the shelf. There are, of course, a few that I never move, particularly Zadie Smith’s Swing Time and Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street. These books, apart from having colourful covers and being stunning visual pleasures, have played a significant role in my young life, shaping me as a reader, a writer, and a person. Their placement on my shelf (and forgive my sentimentalism) is an ode to their influence.

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I also have a small stand-alone shelf on my wall. Here, I place books I am most excited to read. Most of them are attached to a vivid memory of their purchase: Bharati Mukherjee’s Leave It To Me and Zadie Smith’s White Teeth bring to mind a trip to San Francisco with my two best friends; Anita Desai’s The Collected Stories a day in London with my mom; and Jean Rhys’ The Collected Short Stories a perfectly uneventful summer afternoon in Toronto. In many ways, this shelf (again, my sentimental self makes an appearance here) is a diary, which logs happy days waiting to be revisited.

 


Snigdha Koirala is a third year student of English Literature. Born in Nepal and raised in Canada, she is currently living in Scotland, where she is pursuing her degree at The University of Edinburgh. Her love affair with prose and (more recently) poetry has led her work to appear in The Ogilvie, The Inkwell, and other publications. In her spare time, she can be found wandering the streets of Edinburgh, watching cheesy Rom-Coms, and reading bell hooks.

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An Interview with Ruth Awad

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The Sundress Academy for the Arts‘ 2018 Summer Poetry Writing Retreat will run from Friday, May 25th to Sunday, May 27th. The three-day, two-night camping retreat will be held at SAFTA’s own Firefly Farms in Knoxville, Tennessee. All SAFTA retreats focus on generative poetry writing, and this year’s poetry retreat will also include break-out sessions on writing political poetry, writing confession, kicking writer’s block, publishing, and more.

We’re getting excited about our Poetry Retreat this May! Editorial Intern, Anna Moseley, asked Ruth Awad, retreat leader a few questions about creative outlets, confessionalism, and more!

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It seems that between writing, cooking, jewelry, and tattooing, you have a lot of very creative outlets. What about writing has appealed to you more than other creative pursuits?

The satisfaction I derive from writing is different than my other outlets. When I write, I feel for a fleeting second that I’ve glimpsed some tiny, elusive truth. Pinned it down or held it up to the light. That’s not something I get from tattooing or jewelry making, where my aim is namely aesthetic.

In your new book, Set to Music a Wildfire, issues such as war, immigration, and belonging are prominent figures. Did you draw inspiration wholly from your father’s experiences, or have current social issues played a role in the poems? How much of your own experiences have blended with others’ in the retelling of your father’s story?

Ongoing social issues – the Iraq War (and its aftermath), the Syrian Civil War, rampant xenophobia/Islamophobia in the U.S. – definitely informed how I thought about and wrote about my father’s experiences during the Lebanese Civil War. One of my goals for this collection was to examine the civilian cost of war, from trauma and survival to displacement and the work of making a home in another country. I am privileged enough to not have these experiences firsthand, but I have witnessed throughout my life the toll they took on my father ­– the guilt he felt over leaving his family and country, the hostility he faced (especially after 9/11 – I remember the classmates who said my father was a terrorist). Later in the collection, the poems follow my mother and father’s relationship. Those are mostly my experiences and memories at work.

Between your book and your essay, “In the Skin,” you speak a lot about your relationships with your parents and how those have affected you. Would you consider yourself a confessionalist, and if not, how would you describe your approach to writing about personal matters?

It seems most contemporary poetry has some confessionalist impulse, so while I see that at work in my own poems, it feels a little imprecise as a label. My hope for my work is to observe the grief and truth and cruelty and joy in this stupid world, to create something that makes these things more bearable for others. Sometimes examining the self and the personal are a means to that end. Sometimes it is necessary to turn the lens outward.

Sign-ups are happening now for this year’s retreat!

 


Ruth Awad is the author of Set to Music a Wildfire (Southern Indiana Review Press, 2017), which won the 2016 Michael Waters Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of a 2016 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, and she won the 2012 and 2013 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize and the 2011 Copper Nickel Poetry contest. Her work has appeared in New Republic, The Missouri Review, CALYX, Diode, The Adroit Journal, Sixth Finch, and elsewhere. Learn more at www.ruthawadpoetry.com.

Anna Moseley is currently a senior at the University of Tennessee majoring in English Literature. She has a glorious waitressing job downtown and writes as a contributor for the Arts and Culture section of the Daily Beacon. When she bothers to extract her nose from a book, Anna’s hobbies include engaging in wine-fueled political debates and looking at pictures of dogs she can’t afford.

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Interview with SAFTA Fiction Retreat Leader, Mary Miller

 

The Sundress Academy for the Arts is thrilled to announce its Summer Fiction Writing Retreat, which runs from Friday, June 15 to 17, 2018. The three-day, two-night camping retreat will be held at SAFTA’s own Firefly Farms in Knoxville, Tennessee. This year’s retreat will focus on generative fiction writing and include two break-out sessions “Conflict and POV as Perspective” and “Writing the Travel Narrative,” plus discussions on kicking writer’s block, publishing, and more.

A weekend pass includes one-on-one and group instruction, writing supplies, food, drinks, transportation to and from the airport, and all on-site amenities for $250. Tents, sleeping bags, and other camping equipment are available to rent for $25. Payment plans are available if you reserve by April 17, 2018; inquire via email for details.

The event will be open to writers of all backgrounds and provide an opportunity to work with many talented, published fiction writers from around the country, including Mary Miller and Jeanne Thornton.

What are some of your hopes for this year’s SAFTA retreat?

I’m excited to be a part of SAFTA! My hopes for the retreat are simple: to share knowledge and have a good time.

You’ve been published widely, and your works have received great acclaim. In between writing your short story collections, you also wrote a novel. How did these experiences (writing the novel vs writing short stories) differ? What did you find gratifying or frustrating/liberating or constraining about the two?

My novel is similar to my short stories in a lot of ways. For one, it’s a very short novel, around 67k words. It’s also narrow in scope, taking place over a four-day period of time and told from the perspective of one person. I don’t have any interest in writing a multi-generational epic told from numerous points of view. Perhaps that’ll change one day; there was a time when I didn’t think I would write anything other than slightly fictionalized stories from a middle class white woman’s perspective, which isn’t the case anymore.

This is to say: I didn’t find writing that particular novel frustrating. More generally, a story should be as long as it needs to be and I try to remember that.

You unabashedly write about controversial issues in your work, and your characters are both relatable and real. How do you think this might inform your teaching when you work with other writers?

I don’t think of myself as writing about controversial issues or being unabashed or anything like that. I try to be as honest as possible and tell the truth (from my narrator’s perspective). I don’t think there’s any reason to write if you aren’t willing to do this. As far as how this might inform my teaching: I’ll always push writers when they need to be pushed, but I try not to do it in a pushy way.

What/whom are you reading now?

Right now I’m reading two story collections: Jenny Diski’s The Vanishing Princess and Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women. I’m actually rereading the Berlin because I’ve assigned it to my students.

I was going to say that both of these books were published posthumously, but I just googled it and the Diski collection was originally published in 1995 in the U.K. but is just now available in the U.S. So sort of posthumously? They’re both brilliant. I wish I’d found these writers decades ago.

What’s next on the horizon for you? 

I finished a draft of a novel recently and need to start editing it soon. Right now I’m working on an essay about Jason Molina, a musician that more people should listen to/know about (I also love living people!). I’m enjoying writing flash fiction again, too. It’s so gratifying to write a draft of a story in a very short period of time.

We have one full scholarship available for the retreat as well as limited 20% scholarships for those with financial need. To apply for a scholarship, send a packet of no more than (15) pages of prose along with a brief statement on why you would like to attend this workshop to Erin Elizabeth Smith at erin@sundresspublications.com no later than April 10th, 2018. Winners will be announced in late April.

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Sundress Releases Actual Miles by Jim Warner

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Sundress Releases Actual Miles by Jim Warner

Sundress Publications is pleased to announce the release of Jim Warner’s new book, Actual Miles. Order your copy today from the Sundress store!

Part travelogue, part power pop catharsis, Actual Miles is Jim Warner’s third collection of poetry and his first book in nearly a decade. Criss-crossing Rust Belt mining towns and Filipino rice paddies, Actual Miles finds Warner disassembling home and extracting language from record grooves and Mason jars to reclaim his identity as a bastard son of the highway.

“With Actual Miles, Jim Warner is all texture, flavor, and heart, a shock of senses and cultures, and always searching for family and identity, and the best ways to make them sing.”
–Ben Tanzer, author of Be Cool, Sex and Death, and host This Podcast Will Change Your Life.

Jim Warner’s newest poetry collection, Actual Miles, embodies Galway Kinnell’s famous line about time: ‘…Everything he loved was made of it.’  A sense of impermanence—and a respect toward that impermanence—centers these lyrical poems on various topics, including bum hearts, multiracial identity gaps, medical interventions, dislocation, and familial deaths. Other poems make permanent a flash of love or beauty, often in the form of haiku and haibun. Although Warner is often discussing the slow fade of our days, he does so with searing focus, pushing toward the flames rather than pulling away once too hot. Through a beautiful mix of form, this collection refuses to let go with its close-up and hold-up descriptions that embraced existence where mornings are brick-red, hearts are trapped in durian rinds, and elegies come second-hand.”
–Charlotte Pence, author of Many Small Fires

Jim Warner’s poetry has appeared in various journals including The North American jim warnerReview,RHINONew South, and is the author of two collections (PaperKite Press). His third collection Actual Miles will be released in 2018 by Sundress Publications. Jim is the host of the literary podcast Citizen Lit and is a faculty member of Arcadia University’s MFA program.

Order your copy today from the Sundress store!

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An interview with 2017 Chapbook Contest Winner Laura Page

 

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I recently interviewed Laura Page, whose collection of poetry epithalamium won Sundress Publications‘ sixth chapbook competition. Page is a graduate of Southern Oregon University and editor of the poetry journal, Virga. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming from Rust + MothCrab Creek ReviewThe RumpusTinderbox Poetry JournalTINGE, and elsewhere. She is the author of two previous chapbooks, Children, Apostates (dancing girl press, 2016) and Sylvia Plath in the Major Arcana (Anchor & Plume, forthcoming). Visit her website at www.laurapage.net.

Danielle Hayden: Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed! I’d like to dive right in and talk about epithalamium. What was the inspiration behind this work? 

Laura Page: My pleasure. Thank you! I came across the word ‘epithalamium’ in the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics while participating in a project spearheaded by my friend Joshua Medsker, who is also a poet. The term is Latin, and denotes texts celebrating or expounding on marriage, though, as the editors note, epithalamia can be quite varied, both in structure and tonality. Adrienne Rich said something that has always stuck with me: “The moment of change is the poem.” I suppose I wanted to document and compile what is mutable between two committed individuals.

DH: What challenges, if any, did you encounter while putting this collection together?

LP: It’s interesting—compiling this collection was almost no challenge; the poems coalesced, however, out of a difficulty I had been having while trying to order another manuscript. I kept feeling that many poems contained in that collection didn’t seem to ‘fit’ or seemed to belong to another speaker. A large percentage of the poems in epithalamium were those that I eventually realized could become a separate body of work.

DH: If I may, I’d like to ask a bit about your background and your journey to becoming a poet. How and when did you decide that you wanted to be a poet? Who or what were your biggest influences/from whom did you draw inspiration?

LP: I’m not sure there was one pivotal moment. I have always loved literature. As a very young person, I read pretty voraciously. I wish I could devour books now like I did then. I think I wrote my first poem when I was twelve and shortly after that, I decided that I wanted to write fiction. Though I do write the occasional story, poetry is my love. I have to return to Adrienne Rich, here, because I started writing again as an adult after I picked up a book of critical essays on her work. I was maybe 19, and was blown away. After that, it was Theodore Roethke. There were a few gateways. Then I started writing truly awful poetry in earnest.

DH: What/who inspires you today? 

LP: There are many, but recently I’m enamored with Rainer Maria Rilke, Wallace Stevens, Robert Hass, and Ada Limon.

DH: What is your creative process like? I know it’s different for every poet and sometimes for every work or phase of life. Feel free to describe your process more generally or how it was during the writing of epithalamium, if those differed at all.

LP: A poem almost always begins with an image or a turn of phrase that strikes me and then sticks for whatever reason. For some time now, I’ve been keeping one or more Word files open or readily accessible and writing in odd moments, very fast, without letting myself think too much about what’s going down. Everything in a particular file is loosely connected, so I have several little micro-collections going. I rework the poems, occasionally, but I’m less compulsive about doing so than I ever used to be. This is a fairly new thing. It feels more focused compared to past phases, certainly compared to the rather drawn out process of writing epithalamium.

DH: I know that you are the founding editor of the poetry magazine Virga. Congratulations on the launch! What has that been like so far (rewards, challenges, etc.)?

LP: I started Virga because I wanted to be a more involved literary citizen, as cliché as that term might sound these days, and I feel like I’m accomplishing that goal. It’s been very rewarding to read new and emerging poets and showcase their work. We’ve received some great feedback and I’m feeling confident in the future of the magazine, as tiny as we are. I think the challenge, for us, is a challenge any very new publication experiences unless it is very well connected, which is just bringing the magazine to the attention of more readers and prospective contributors. So, a shameless plug: if you’re reading this, we’d love for you to take a look and consider submitting poems!

DH: Why do you write? Why does poetry matter? We here at Sundress don’t need to be convinced of poetry’s importance, but for those naysayers, what do you say?

LP: Poetry is a means of access; what is being accessed is different for every poet. For me, it’s a way of getting at complex emotions, desires, and a way to interrogate my own assumptions. Sometimes it’s a liminal way to converse with elements outside of myself.

 DH: What are you reading now/what have you read recently?

 LP: I recently read Jorge Luis Borges’ This Craft of Verse, which is an incredible collection of essays on the reading and writing of poetry, and am currently reading a strange mix of things: some religious texts—gospels from the Nag Hammadi—some Anaïs Nin, some Gertrude Stein.

DH: And, finally, what are you currently working on? Any forthcoming projects that we can look forward to?

LP: I’m working slowly and quietly on a few things, including the full-length manuscript I mentioned. Virga is also gearing up for issue three coming this spring, so we’re very excited about that.

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Laura Page is a graduate of Southern Oregon University and editor of the poetry journal, Virga. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Crab Creek Review, The Rumpus, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, TINGE, and elsewhere. She is the author of two previous chapbooks, Children, Apostates (dancing girl press, 2016) and Sylvia Plath in the Major Arcana (Anchor & Plume, forthcoming).

Danielle Hayden is a freelance writer and editor who grew up in Detroit and now lives in Seattle. Included among all the things she loves are: learning, books, watching films, making lists, and collecting great quotes—sometimes as tattoos. She reads about everything, and writes about almost as much. Danielle is an enthusiastic supporter of the arts and of the Oxford comma.

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Project Bookshelf: Cass Hayes

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For the last five years, my life has been on the move. For three years, I lived in dorms at the University of Texas at Arlington, getting my bachelor’s in English, and for the past two years I’ve lived in campus apartments at the University of Central Arkansas, getting my MFA in creative writing. So every winter and summer break, I move out and return to my parent’s house, my childhood home—where my actual bookshelves, packed in total with hundreds of books, reside.

The sparse offerings pictured here are what I decided to bring from home a few weeks ago, when I returned to Conway, Arkansas and my campus apartment. In the picture above, the stack on the right is comprised of all my books for my classes, except for Dracula, which I am supposed to be reading for a class right now and so is on my desk. The stack on the left is a personal TBR pile, about half comprised of books I stole from my mother’s bookshelf at home (and promise I will return), and also two personal essays anthologies—I have become obsessed with the personal essay form after taking a creative nonfiction class last semester—the Writing about Writing textbook, and a book called A Literature of Sports, which my dad—a baseball fanatic and a high school baseball and football coach—gave me. There is also a bowl of Reese’s minis, my favorite candy (especially when I’m stressed with school stuff), and in the back a Robert Johnson sheet music book.

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Pictured above is my more immediate TBR pile, stacked on my desk. The first two books are by Kazuo Ishiguro, recent Nobel Prize winner who I’ve never read anything by (yet). Then there is a mix of history books, such as the Abraham Lincoln biography and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s No Ordinary Time, screenplays—Lincoln and Magnolia—a collected stories book by fellow Texan Katherine Anne Porter, a poetry book by Rubén Dario, and an anthology of film criticism and theory.

The books pictured here are all a sort of random mishmash of stuff I’m interested in right now—either because I’m just randomly interested or because I’m being forced to be interested by a class. It’s annoying and a bit ridiculous, a bit Sisyphean, lugging books from Waxahachie, Texas to Conway, Arkansas every three or so months, especially when I’ll probably not even read half of them—instead becoming interested with a topic or author that I can find plenty of resources on in the campus library—but I can’t help it. I love being surrounded by books, and don’t feel at home otherwise.

Cass Hayes is a writer from Waxahachie, Texas. She attends the Arkansas Writers MFA Program at the University of Central Arkansas and works as the managing editor of the online literary journal Arkana. Her fiction and poetry appears or is forthcoming in various online and print literary journals, including Five:2:One, Work Literary Magazine, and Déraciné Magazine.

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Graphic Design Internship for Sundress Publications

 

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Sundress Publications is Hiring
for a Graphic Design Internship

Sundress Publications is an entirely volunteer-run 501(c)(3) nonprofit publishing collective founded in 2000 that hosts a variety of online journals and publishes chapbooks, full-length collections, and literary anthologies in both print and digital formats. Sundress also publishes the annual Best of the Net Anthology, celebrating the best work published online, and the Gone Dark Archives, preserving online journals that have reached the end of their run. .

The design internship position will run from March to October, 2018. The design intern will assist with creating flyers & brochures, constructing graphics, book-making, etc. Responsibilities may include designing the interior and exterior of e-books, formatting manuscripts, and/or designing and editing promotional materials.  Applicants must be self-motivated and be able to work on a strict deadline.

Preferred qualifications include:

  • Familiarity with Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and/or Illustrator
  • Experience with book-making, print-making, and/or letterpress
  • Graphic design experience
  • Knowledge of contemporary literature a plus

Applicants are welcome to telecommunicate and therefore are not restricted to living in the Knoxville area.

While this is an unpaid internship, all interns will gain real-world experience in the designing books and promotional materials for a nationally recognized press while creating a portfolio of work for future employment opportunities. Interns will also be able to attend all workshops at the Sundress Academy for the Arts at cost.

To apply, please send a resume and a brief cover letter detailing your interest in the position to the Managing Editor, Erin Elizabeth Smith, at erin@sundresspublications.com.

For more information, visit our website at sundresspublications.com.

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Submissions Now Open for 2018 Chapbook Competition

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Sundress Publications is pleased to announce its fourth annual chapbook contest. Authors of all genres are invited to submit qualifying manuscripts during our reading period of January 15th to April 15th, 2018.

We are looking for poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or any combination thereof. Manuscripts must be between twelve to twenty-six (12-26) pages in length, with a page break between individual pieces. Individual pieces may have been previously published in anthologies, print journals, online journals, etc., but cannot have appeared in any full-length collection, including self-published collections. Both single-author and collaborative dual-author manuscripts will be considered. Manuscripts must be primarily in English; translations are not eligible.

The entry fee is $10 per manuscript, though the fee will be waived for entrants who purchase or pre-order any Sundress title. We will also accept nominations for entrants, provided the nominating person either pays the reading fee or makes a qualifying purchase. Authors may submit and/or nominate as many chapbook manuscripts as they would like, so long as each is accompanied by a separate reading fee or purchase/pre-order. Entrants and nominators can place book orders or pay submission fees at our store.

The winner will receive a $200 prize, plus publication as a beautiful full-color PDF available exclusively online for free. Runners-up will also be considered for publication.

This year’s judge will be Wren Hanks. Hanks is a trans writer from Texas and the author Wren_Headshotof Prophet Fever (Hyacinth Girl Press) and Ghost Skin (Porkbelly Press). A 2016 Lambda Emerging Writers Fellow, his recent work appears in Best New Poets 2016, Gigantic Sequins, Jellyfish Magazine, The Wanderer, and elsewhere. His third chapbook, gar child, is forthcoming from Tree Light Books in 2018. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

All manuscripts should include a cover page (with only the title of the manuscript), table of contents, dedication (if applicable), and acknowledgments for previous publications. These pages will not be included in the total page count. Identifying information should not appear in any part of the manuscript. Authors with a significant relationship to the judge (friends, relatives, colleagues, past or present students, etc.) are discouraged from entering.

To submit, attach your manuscript as a DOCX or PDF file along with your order number for either a Sundress title or the entry fee to contest@sundresspublications.com.

Simultaneous submission to other presses is acceptable, but please notify Sundress immediately if the manuscript has been accepted elsewhere. Multiple submissions are allowed, but a separate entry fee must accompany each entry. No revisions will be allowed during the contest judging period. Winners will be announced in Summer 2018.

 

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Interview with Stephanie McCarley Dugger, Author of Either Way, You’re Done (Sundress Publications 2017)

 

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Cass Hayes
: What kinds of things inform and inspire your writing? Are there any specific books or authors that had a big impact on Either Way, You’re Done?

Stephanie McCarley Dugger: I grew up on a farm, which is a big influence on my work; I write a lot about nature and animals and the night sky (it’s vast and gracious in the country). And music—I’m from a family of singers (but since I can’t sing to save my life, I became a flutist). So, music really inspires my work, too. Specific writers? So, so many. Definitely Mary Ann Samyn, Anne Carson, and, of course, Emily Dickinson. I didn’t recognize her influence until I was proofing one of the early drafts of Either Way, You’re Done and noticed that nearly every poem had two or three dashes. They’ve changed a lot since those early drafts, but I believe her influence is still evident in the poems.

CH: What about writing brings you joy?

SMD: Discovery. I write to find out—to investigate something—and when the writing results in some new discovery, some new truth, I get excited. When I wrote the last two lines of “After the Shooting,” “In my daydreams, / I do not beg for mercy,” I realized much of the manuscript is an act of begging for mercy, and refusing to do that is alluring and empowering, but also often impossible. That kind of surprise keeps me writing. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does I get all giddy.

CH: Why do you write poetry, and why did the topics you explore in Either Way, You’re Done need to be explored through poems?

SMD: I’m drawn to poetry in particular because rhythm is a form of meditation for me. It provides me focus to explore what I’m trying to learn about. I write essays, too, but I always return to poetry because the attention to rhythm, language, and space on the page helps me clear out all of the noise. I write a lot about trauma, and poetry seems to work best when I’m delving into those topics. I can cut, cut, cut until only the necessary remains. Often, the necessary ends up being more space on the page than words. That white space gives me (and maybe the reader) a place to breathe.

CH: What has been your biggest struggle in your writing and in publishing your work?

SMD: There are some love poems to women in the book, some about being bisexual in a Southern Baptist home. That isn’t something I’ve shared with many family members, so I have some concerns about how they’ll react. The biggest struggle, though, goes back to writing about trauma. Many of the poems are about my childhood experiences—physical and sexual abuse, my mother’s mental illness—and that’s hard to put out there. It isn’t something I go around talking about, so knowing these poems might be read by other people has been hard. I struggled for a long time with whether or not I should publish them at all. I want to protect my family and my privacy, so I’m torn between writing/publishing my experience or keeping it close. At some point, I had to make a decision. This is what I write about, and I’m going to either release it out into the world or abandon the work. I decided to release it.

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CH: How do you decide what form a poem is going to take? Is there any significance in the form of the poems included in Either Way, You’re Done, or in the structure of the book as a whole?

SMD: I’m not very practiced in choosing a form and writing to that form, so I have to listen to the poem to find the form. I still handwrite the first draft of everything—it feels less restrictive. The handwritten draft is usually a sin

gle stanza, short lines. Then I type the poem out, but keep that basic form. I work in the white space and fragmentation after several revisions. I revise based on sound—I read the poem out loud over and over, and the pauses in rhythm usually suggest the white space. Funny, though—when I read the finished poems in front of people, I usually don’t read them as they appear on the page. The white space is diminished. I don’t always end up with a fragmented poem, but the poems dealing with trauma often end up in that form. It just needs more time, more space on the page. Not more words, just more space.

CH: Why are so many poems in Either Way, You’re Done dedicated to specific people?

SMD: That’s a great question. I didn’t actually intend for those people in the dedications to read these poems (this goes back to your earlier question about the struggles with writing). If they do, fine, but it wasn’t my aim to get their attention. Initially, none of the poems were dedicated, but there are so many different you’s in the first section of the book that it was confusing. No matter what I did, though, I couldn’t get away from second person point of view. Very few of the poems worked in third person. The best solution was to add a dedication when it was necessary to understand who the poem is directed to. In the first section, it’s important to know in order to keep the narrative clear. That information isn’t as necessary in the second section—whether the you’s are all the same or different doesn’t matter as much—so there are fewer dedications in the second half.

CH: Do you have any advice for someone just starting out writing poetry?

SMD: Keep writing. We need your voice, especially now.

And if you’re afraid to write about something, that’s the very thing you need to write about.

Oh, and there is no set path, no set time-table in writing. Go your own pace, no matter what everyone else is doing.

CH: Do you have any advice for revision? How do you go about revision?

SMD: I revise a lot. A lot! I like revising. I like it more than writing something new, so I’ll often put off generating new work by revising. I rarely know when to stop. It’s part of the reason there’s so much white space in my work—I cut and cut words and lines until I have to start the poem over.

My advice for revising: Read it out loud over and over. Reading out loud is the most productive means of revising for me. I get a clearer sense of the diction and rhythm.

 

Also, keep every draft so you can go back if you don’t like where it’s going, but don’t be afraid to do something drastic in revision. The poem isn’t some delicate thing that needs to be nestled and protected. It’s a process, a product of manipulation. So, blow it up, cut it apart, see what happens. You can always go back if it doesn’t work.

CH: What are you working on now? Do you have any other projects in the works?

SMD: I’m working on a children’s book and an essay collection (slowly). I recently finished my second manuscript, a long poem about mental illness and diagnosis, and I’m working on a third. I’ve been spending as much time outside as possible these last couple of years, and that is heavily influencing the new poems (back to nature!).

You can order Either Way, You’re Done today from the Sundress store!

___

Stephanie McCarley Dugger is the author of Either Way, You’re Done (Sundress Publications, 2017). Her chapbook Sterling (Paper Nautilus, 2015) was co-winner of the 2014 Vella Chapbook contest. Her work has appeared in The Boiler Journal, Gulf Stream, Heron Tree, Meridian, The Southeast Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, and other journals. She is an assistant professor at Austin Peay State University and is Assistant Poetry Editor for Zone 3 Press.

Cass Hayes is a writer from Waxahachie, Texas. She attends the Arkansas Writers MFA Program at the University of Central Arkansas and works as the managing editor of the online literary journal Arkana. Her fiction and poetry appears or is forthcoming in various online and print literary journals, including Five:2:One, Work Literary Magazine, and Déraciné Magazine.

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